How to Build a Stage Spotlight

By Tammy Quinn Mckillip ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Coffee can
  • Can opener
  • Thurmalox black paint
  • Power drill
  • Drill bit
  • Light socket/cord set with metal clamp
  • Duct tape
  • Wood or metal handles
  • Colored plastic sheets
  • 3/4 inch drill bit
  • 3.75-inch compact fluorescent floodlight
freegraphics.com

If you're designing your theatrical production on a budget, you can save money on lighting by creating your own spotlights. You can reuse materials you already have, and you won't spend more than a few bucks to build your own unique stage spotlight.

Remove the bottom of a metal coffee can by using a hand-held or electric can opener.

Paint the coffee can black on the outside. Use Thurmalox paint or any paint that is formulated to withstand high temperatures.

Drill a hole big enough to fit the cord and light assembly into the removed bottom of the coffee can using a 3/4 inch drill bit. Paint the bottom on both sides.

Line the hole with electrical tape to prevent the sharp edges from shredding the plastic on the cord.

Run the cord for the light sock/cord set through the hole you made in the removed bottom of the can.

Place the bottom of the can, along with the cord and fixture, inside the painted can. Fix the bottom of the can in place with electrical tape.

Use the metal clamp to attach the cord to a board or other fixed surface.

Tip

Use a low-wattage 3.75 inch compact fluorescent floodlight-style bulb. Create filters by taping colored plastic over the end of the coffee can after the light bulb is in place, or create interchangeable filters by cutting 3.75 inch holes into folded squares of tin foil, and taping the colored plastic sheets into the foil squares. Then, use electrical tape on either side of the foil to hold the filter into place over the end of the can. Use a pink filter for common lighting, or use other colors to match your stage color scheme.

Warning

Always watch lights carefully to avoid fire. If you see a spotlight smoking, turn it off, and allow it to cool before plugging it back in.